Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"New group looks to keep Chelan Wal-Mart open"

Speaking of Chelan, the citizens are starting to fight back. From today's Wenatchee World:
A new group of Chelan Wal-Mart supporters is threatening to take Defenders of Small Town Chelan to court if it succeeds in closing the new store, which opened here last week.

Still unnamed, the group is being organized by Mike Stowe, who said his main purpose is to challenge Defenders of Small Town Chelan, and to sue the group for lost wages if Wal-Mart is forced to close.

"This is probably something we should have done a long time ago," said Stowe, who owns Chelan Valley Tours and also installs Internet service for a local cable franchise.

On Thursday, Defenders of Small Town Chelan asked the Chelan City Council to revoke Wal-Mart's occupancy permit, but the council took no action.

The request came after Chelan County Superior Court Judge Lesley Allan ruled last month that Wal-Mart's 162,000-square-foot building is more than three times bigger than the limits the city placed on the business park's development plan four years ago.

Earlier this month, the judge left it up to the city to rectify its zoning error, and whether to let Wal-Mart open on Jan. 22.

Defenders told the council on Thursday that the city is obliged by its own laws to close the store until the zoning is legally resolved.

"We knew it was a difficult thing to ask," said Laurel Jamtgaard, a Defenders spokeswoman. She said the council could have taken action even though the request was not on the agenda.

Jamtgaard said citizens have the legal right to challenge the city. She said Defenders of Small Town Chelan should not be liable for lost employee wages because it won its lawsuit. Chelan should not have issued the permit, and Wal-Mart should not have built the store while the legality of the zoning permit was still in question, she said.

Jamtgaard added that the threat of a lawsuit won't intimidate them. "His case is frivolous, and I don't believe an attorney would pick it up," she said.

Stowe said he received 38 e-mails from people wanting to join the pro-Wal-Mart cause by Monday after announcing his intention to form the group on a Chelan radio show on Saturday.

He said he doubts Defenders of Small Town Chelan will be successful in shutting down Wal-Mart. But if it is, he's already talked to two lawyers about suing to hold Defenders of Small Town Chelan responsible for the wages and benefits of the Wal-Mart employees, as well as those who have small businesses at the front of the store.

"Hopefully, they'll get the message and say, 'The natives are restless, so let's drop it,' " he said. And if Defenders drops its effort to close the store, he said, "we'll just disband."

The group also believes that Defenders of Small Town Chelan doesn't represent the "true" citizens of Chelan.
Good luck, Mike. Unfortunately, the natives have been restless in Pullman for years and that hasn't made our local anti-Wal-Mart group drop anything.

As for Laurel Jamtaggard, she ought to know about frivilous lawsuits.

Trust me, if there were any way to sue PARD, I'd be the first plaintiff in line.

Technorati Tags:

Lessons From The Lake

This was posted today at GoLakeChelan.com. The comparisons between Defenders of Small Town Chelan and PARD are startling:

Thanks again for providing this forum.

I did some research on the public development authorities as they have been used in this state. They are narrowly focused and project specific i.e. they are put in place, usually temporarily, to plan and fund a museum, a low income housing project, etc. I have never seen one envisioned to replace the planning process in any jurisdiction which is accountable to the local government and populace. They are public/private partnerships which can obtain funding a local government cannot and are not an appropriate replacement for a planning department and planning commission.

We currently have a public process, including a planning commission, that does our planning and is staffed by the folks we elect to run the city. Why would we want to replace that with a bunch of folks who are not accountable like the Defenders group?

The Defenders have gone out of their way to eliminate public input in all of their actions. Their initial lawsuit sought to replace the City's planning process with a judge's rule. That failed (even though Defenders claim they won) when their baseless claims of fraud and collusion were thrown out.
They did find an inconsistency in a planned development document, which the judge properly remanded to the City to correct. In a passive aggressive way, while Lars talks gently about the importance of public process, Laurel is out there trying to kill it. Of course, they have to try to eliminate the public process since the public doesn't want the same things this small group does.

After it must have been abundantly clear, even to the Defenders, that the public supported the City and Wal-Mart, they once again tried to influence the judge to close the store or tear it down against public wishes. The issue of unfair enforcement of the laws is hogwash, and the judge has already given us insight that she should rule in Wal-Mart's favor. If a typical business opened without permits, it would be because they did construction without permits and did not have the required inspections that assure public safety. In such a case, a business should be closed until permits are issued and inspections are made. That is not the case for Wal-Mart, who built with valid permits and complied with all inspections. There is no potential public hazard in letting Wal-Mart operate and they have paid all required fees. As the judge already said, the damages for 200 employees who would be out of work would be substantial while the Defenders suffer no damage if Wal-Mart operates while this is corrected.

I am surprised by the Defenders' latest action. I know many of these folks and, except for the whole Defenders deal, know them as caring thoughtful folks. However, like their earlier actions, this is a baseless publicity stunt. Just like "bait & switch, collusion, tear it down, close it" and the other ridiculous public positions taken by this group. I encourage the City to continue to treat it as such and, unfortunately, continue to spend the resources to defend itself against a group that has demeaned themselves to the point of becoming development terrorists with their ludicrous "settlement" offer. I don't doubt that there are folks who contributed to and supported this group's action who now wish they could apologize for this latest insult. The Defenders lack the grace to know when to quit.

How about this for a settlement? The Defenders publicly apologize for taking such divisive, adversarial and provocative actions to try to derail the public planning process. They disband. The Defenders learn that just because the City doesn't take their advice doesn't mean they weren't heard, just that they are not speaking for the broader community. Sounds reasonable to me.

Al Lorenz
To the Wal-Mart haters, it's a lot more than a baseless publicity stunt. The Chelan Wal-Mart story was trumpeted nationally. It was on Fox News and carried by the AP. And why not? The Defenders were threatening to have the store torn down before it even opened. The union thugs at Wal-Mart Watch, Wake Up Wal-Mart and Sprawl-Busters all had their juicy negative headline. Lost in all the brouhaha, of course, was the fact that the store opened as scheduled amidst wide public support. But who cares? Perception is reality.

It should come as no surprise that Laurel Jamtgaard, the attorney who heads Defenders of Small Town Chelan, is the Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Precinct 182 in Chelan County.

As far as Lars Clausen, he has ridden 9,136 miles through all 50 states on a unicycle and holds 2 Guinness World Records. He is also an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a Berkeley grad, a gay rights activist, and an author who has published two books (by the way TV, when is your next book coming out?). All this publicity can't hurt any and only gives him more liberal street cred as an activist.

No, the only people suffering are the poor average citizens of Chelan, caught in the middle of force they can't control. Just like in Pullman.

Technorati Tags:

Yet Another Fact Check

Pullman flourishes because of Washington State University. WSU thrives because it can attract many excellent professors. Many professors would not have moved to Pullman if they knew it was soon to be a big-box clone of a thousand other places.
Jim "Uncle Buck" Krueger, January 27, 2007, Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Growth on the Vancouver campus is bucking a couple of trends in the Washington State University system.

When spring enrollment figures for the four-campus WSU system were announced Friday,Vancouver was the only site showing a gain, with 323 more students than a year ago.

WSU Vancouver's spring head count - students taking at least one class - is 2,300. That's a 16.3 percent increase over the spring 2006 head count of 1,977.

Head counts dropped at the Pullman (406) , Spokane (55) and Tri-Cities (71) campuses.

Spring semester began earlier this month.

The growth spurt at the Salmon Creek campus was expected, because 2006-07 marks WSU Vancouver's debut as a four-year university.

The other measurement of enrollment growth - full-time equivalent students - rose even more sharply at the Vancouver campus with the equivalent of 1,667 students taking full-time loads. That's a 21.8 percent climb from the 1,369 FTE enrollment a year ago.

The other WSU campuses combined for a drop of 374 in FTE enrollments.
The Columbian, January 30, 2007

WSU Vancouver is obviously thriving. According to Krueger, that must be because it can attract many excellent professors. But wait. Vancouver is the home of not one but THREE Wal-Mart stores, in addition to many other large retailers, making it a big-box clone of a thousand other places. In fact, WSU Vancouver held a forum on Wal-Mart last year in which both PROS and cons were discussed. Wow. Covering both sides of an issue. Those are excellent professors indeed.

Could it be that the presence of a Wal-Mart has NOTHING to do with attracting professors or a university thriving? Such a theory is as unscientific and fallacious, as say, claiming Wal-Mart will cause impotence in men.

Technorati Tags:

Newton’s Third Law of Local Politics

On January 9, I wrote:
"Common understanding?" Chaney has just declared war on Whitman County. There will be no more Whitman County participation in future "water" or "knowledge corridor" summits. How can Chaney expect ANY cooperation now?
The January 25, edition of the Whitman County Gazette reported the following:
Also on the dues list was a $500 bill for the Palouse Basin Water Summit. Commssioners elected to withdraw from that group.

“Obviously, our neighbors decided to use that as a forum, and I don’t think we need to help them with that forum,” said Partch.

Finch said the summit turned out to be a “beat up Whitman County thing,” and said he could not support it.
And in another article:
Latah Economic Development Council is seeking representatives from local government entities on both sides of the state line to sit on a blue ribbon committee to develop a plan of developing a “knowledge corridor” between Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

No funds are currently committed, leaving local government leaders to question how much time to devote to the idea.

Meanwhile, County Commssioners questioned what they could bring to the table.

“We need to find out what they need from us before we go forward with this,” said County Commissioner Jerry Finch.

Commssioners were hesitant to put too much stock into the plan until it develops a cohesive strategy.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Debunking Al Gore's Junk Science

If you have a spare fifteen minutes, you should read an overview of Marlo Lewis Jr.'s "Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth: One-sided, Misleading, Exaggerated, Speculative, Wrong" located at this link.

It shows how enviromental fear is used as a scare tactic against Americans and the failings of the Kyoto Protocols. It counters many statements that the global warming liberals, greens and mainstream media often use.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not Condemned to Repeat It

Last weekend's anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC was pathetically sad and funny at the same time. The burnt-out old hippies are vainly attempting to relive a Forrest Gumpesque acid trip (for the last time we can hope). My God, they have even resurrected Hanoi Jane. Back in 1972, Fonda manned a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun in a photo op. Will we next see her holding an RPG in Ramadi or Fallujah?

I reject comparisons of Iraq with Vietnam. Every war is different. That's why it's so tricky. The military is always ready to fight the last war. But one thing I do see comparisons with the Vietnam War is in the increasingly vitriolic vileness of the anti-war movement.

At a DC counter-demonstration, a disabled Iraq veteran was spit upon by protesters. There was also vandalism at the Capitol. The current anti-war movement would do well to remember that for all the sound and fury of their demonstrations, for all the dead students at Kent State, all the Vietnam protesters accomplished was to get Richard Nixon re-elected by one of the largest margins in American history in 1972 and put us on the road to Watergate, Malaisegate, and Desert One. They went too far and sickened the American public. Dissent is a proud American tradition. Spitting on soldiers and providing aid and comfort to the enemy is not. That is treason.

And the anti-Iraq war movement doesn't even have close to those numbers yet. Saturday's demonstration was only around 10,000. Embarassing. Of course, the liberal media made much of it, even though the Monday before there were twenty times as many people on the mall to protest the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

My favorite Evergreen columnist, Jimmy Blue wrote today that:
The protests that took place across the country on Saturday may have been the largest demonstration of anti-war sentiment since the Iraq war began. But the older generation seems to be carrying all the weight. I believe it is crucial for the teenagers, the high school- and college-age people of our nation to take some responsibility for their own interests. It seems that as an age group we are too lazy and apathetic to participate in political discourse.
I would submit that is neither laziness nor apathy that keeps today's young people away from the protests, but intelligence and dignity. Unlike their foolish elders, they have learned from history and are not condemned to repeat it.

Choosing Our Destiny

I’m beginning to worry about the Whitman County Gazette now that Thinh Nguyen is gone. The Gazette used to provide some of the best reporting on the Palouse. Now, we get stories like the one on the front page of last Thursday’s edition:
Old ag zone yields housing growth

The rural areas of Whitman County continued to see an influx of houses last year despite stringent stipulations on building homes in the county’s agricultural zone. The county issued 22 building permits for new houses, 18 of which were custom-built dwellings and four manufactured homes. This is the second highest number in the last six years.

In 2005, the county issued 24 permits for custom dwellings and 10 for manufactured homes. This was the high mark for the last six years.

Over those six years, 134 new houses have been located in rural areas of Whitman.
This is “yielding housing growth?” This is an “influx of houses?”

Pullman’s population is 27,030 with an area of 9 square miles. Whitman County, exlcuding Pullman, has a population of 13,710 with an area of 2,150.37 square miles.

Pullman added 1,639 housing units from 2000-2006. That’s one new home for every 16.49 residents or one new home for every 5/1000th of square mile.

Whitman County added 134 housing units from 2000-2006. That’s one new home for every 102.31 residents or one new home for every 16.04 square miles.

In 2000, there were 9,392 housing units in Pullman. 1,639 new units between 2000 and 2006 represent a 17% increase, or about 2.8% a year.

In 2000, there were 7,284 housing units in Whitman County outside of Pullman. 134 new units between 2000 and 2006 represent a 1.8% increase. or about 0.3% a year!!!! That’s not growth!! That’s stagnation!!

Is it any wonder that while Pullman gained 2,082 residents since 2000, that Whitman County (including Pullman) had an overall loss of 570 residents between 2000 and 2005?

Is it any wonder that Whitman County ranks FIFTH worst in the state of Washington for first-time homebuyer affordability?

Is it any wonder that the average home cost $170,000 in Whitman County in 2005 and that figure jumped 20 percent in 2006 and is currently hovering around $200,000?

Is it any wonder a business recruitment expert cited Whitman County’s high housing costs as a major factor against attracting manufacturing businesses to the area?

Is it any wonder that the Pullman “micropolitan” area, which includes Whitman County, was recently rated by a Bizjournals.com study #560 out of 577 U.S. "micropolitan" areas in terms of affordable housing?

Is it any wonder that a study by a University of Idaho economist concluded that because of the underdeveloped housing sector in Pullman and Whitman County, Moscow and Latah County might be benefitting as much from the growth of Schweitzer Engineering Labs as Pullman and Whitman County?

The answer is no. The only wonder is why the Gazette would even try to justify the onerous rural housing ordinance by perpetrating such a fraud of a story.

The Gazette article states:
The original ordinances were laid down as a way for planning and zoning countywide to control their own destiny.
It’s painfully clear now clear what destiny has been chosen by our leadership over the last three decades. Just ask the folks in Colfax, Rosalia, Palouse, Lacrosse, etc. who all face declining school enrollments and boarded-up businesses due to population loss. Just ask the twentysomething couple looking to buy a first home in Pullman.

We need to choose a better destiny for ourselves.

“Gregoire’s budget could harm Whitcom”

From yesterday’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Proposal to enhance radio services in I-5 corridor could drain funds for statewide emergency dispatch network

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget could cause long-term problems for Whitcom.

Gregoire has proposed that $10 million from the Washington Enhanced 911 fund be used to improve radio interoperability in the Interstate-5 corridor. The money originally was earmarked to replace a 30-year-old statewide 911 network.

The current system, which was designed for quick access from one dispatch center to another, is unreliable and restrictive, Whitcom Director Patti VonBargen said.

Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said diverting money away from crucial dispatch projects could be debilitating for state policing. It also could mean problems locally for Whitcom, a dispatch center that serves Whitman and Asotin counties and the cities of Pullman and Moscow.

“The dispatcher is the first person you hear in an emergency,” he said. “You can’t take any part of that link away and not affect how that system works.”

The E911 fund receives money from the statewide E911 tax, which charges Washington cell phone users 20 cents per month. VonBargen said money from the E911 fund is granted to 39 state dispatch centers to partially fund employee salaries, equipment and training. Money also is allocated each year to the strategic fund to save for long-term projects, such as the new statewide dispatch network. The multi-million dollar state dispatch update project was still in the initial phases. No date for implementation had been set.

“I know that money’s always an issue. But when (taxpayers) voted for the tax, there’s a certain expectation. Taxpayers have a right for that money to be spent that way,” she said. “It jeopardizes technology.”

VonBargen said a $10 million withdrawal wouldn’t deplete the E911 fund, but it would set a precedent.

“Every time we save money, they take it. We have no avenue to save,” she said. “It’s not going to cost (Whitcom) any money right now, but if they keep following this pattern, they’re really going to hurt us.”

Myers worries that if a large chunk of the E911 fund is diverted, it could result in a monetary loss for the county. A portion of the E911 fund is used each year to help pay for employee overtime and other projects such as replacing equipment.

“The state’s not worried about funding our projects, they’re worried about funding their own,” he said.

VonBargen said something will have to give if Whitcom’s budget is decreased.

“You find a way,” she said. “You can’t get rid of police officers.”

Myers said a local E911 tax which bills local cell phone users one tenth of one percent may help the area dispatch center stay afloat.

“The taxpayers supported us,” he said. “I think that will be our saving grace in this whole thing.”

VonBargen said an $11 million federal fund has been identified for radio interoperability projects. She suggests that money be used for the I-5 activity.

“We’re asking them to use that money and leave our funds alone,” she said.

Myers agreed.

“We just think there’s other places to find the money,” he said. “They have more pots over there (in Olympia) that aren’t so essential.”

VonBargen, Myers, county commissioners and other officials statewide are writing letters to legislators in an effort to keep the money allotted for updates to the state network. Local legislators will work to amend and adopt the budget.

“The money belongs to the state and they can do what they want with it,” VonBargen said. “But we’re hoping to stop it with the legislators.”
So, this is Queen Christine’s idea of “shredding the Cascade Curtain?” Add this together with the Department of Ecology’s misbegotten stormwater runoff permitting, and I wonder why anyone in Eastern Washington would ever vote for a Democrat.

Attention Sprawl Haters

If you despise "one-stop shopping," abhor big-box stores, and fear Pullman is becoming like "a thousand other places," Pomeroy beckons. From today's Seattle Times:
Garfield County searches for new doctor for Pomeroy

The Garfield County Hospital District is searching for a physician to replace the town of Pomeroy's only full-time doctor, who is leaving in July.

Dr. Syed Zafar, the current doctor, and his family are moving to Atlanta to be closer to family. Zafar is the only full-time doctor in the town of about 1,400 residents. He serves as the medical director of the Pomeroy clinic and hospital, which are both operated by the hospital district.

The district has launched a nationwide search for a replacement. In the meantime, service will not be interrupted for Zafar's patients, said Andrew Craigie, hospital district chief executive officer.

"We are getting some nibbles," he said. "Our goal is to find someone who has a passion for a rural practice."

Craigie said the district will quiz applicants up front about lifestyle.

"If you like the hustle and bustle of a big city, this isn't the place for you. There's not a McDonald's on every other corner and you will have to drive to find a Wal-Mart that's open 24 hours a day," he said.

"On the other hand, if you appreciate the serendipity of friendliness and living in a storybook town, Pomeroy is for you," he said. "It's the kind of place where people know you and know your name and genuinely care about you. Now who wouldn't want that?"

Three national firms that operate on a contingency basis are assisting with the search, and the district is considering retaining a firm that could guarantee the job will be filled.

"It's a big investment," Craigie said. "We're looking at a minimum of about $20,000 for a successful placement. It's really difficult to do a search without these firms. Typically, physicians are not looking in the want ads."

Each candidate is carefully screened to make sure he or she would be a good fit for the job, which pays $112,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on experience.

The hospital district has 90 full- and part-time employees. It provides health care services at the hospital, nursing home and the Pomeroy Medical Clinic, serving about 3,000 patients.
It's all about choices and trade-offs.

Technorati Tags:

Fact Check

Pullman flourishes because of Washington State University. WSU thrives because it can attract many excellent professors.
- Jim "Uncle Buck" Krueger, January 26, 2007, Moscow-Pullman Daily News
The two land-grant universities on the Palouse have continued to bleed students, according to head counts on the 10th day of spring semester classes.

The University of Idaho lost 595 students statewide compared to spring semester last year. Washington State University lost 406 students from its Pullman campus over the same period.
- Lewiston Tribune, January 30, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hayek and What's at Stake in Our Debate Over Growth

By popular demand, some more quotes from Nobel prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. When you read these, think about Matt Saavedra and how he wants government to choose between "good corporations" and "bad corporations." Think about Alex McDonald's accusation that Wal-Mart's "millionaire" owners "steal" from their employees. Think about Mark Winstein's argument that the city of Moscow should determine how people work, live and commute to preserve the "small-town college atmosphere."

Hayek warns us that all this central planning leads to collectivism, and collectivism leads to totalitarianism:
Most of the people whose views influence developments are in some measure socialists. They believe that our economic life should be "consciously directed," that we should substitute "economic planning" for the competitive system. Yet is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavor consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?

In order to achieve their ends, the planners must create power—power over men wielded by other men—of a magnitude never before known. Their success will depend on the extent to which they achieve such power. Democracy is an obstacle to this suppression of freedom which the centralized direction of economic activity requires. Hence arises the clash between planning- and democracy.

There is, in a competitive society, nobody who can exercise even a fraction of the power which a socialist planning board would possess. To decentralize power is to reduce the absolute amount of power, and the competitive system is the only system designed to minimize the power exercised by man over man. Who can seriously doubt that the power which a millionaire, who may be my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest bureaucrat possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends how I am allowed to live and work?

Our generation has forgotten that the system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. When all the means of production are vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of "society" as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us. In the hands of private individuals, what is called economic power can be an instrument of coercion, but it is never control over the whole life of a person. But when economic power is centralized as an instrument of political power it creates a degree of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery. It has been well said that, in a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation.

"Planning" owes its popularity largely to the fact that everybody desires, of course, that we should handle our common problems with as much foresight as possible. The dispute between the modern planners and the liberals is not on whether we ought to employ systematic thinking in planning our affairs. It is a dispute about what is the best way of so doing. The question is whether we should create conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals are given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully; or whether we should direct and organize all economic activities according to a "blue-print," that is, "consciously direct the resources of society to conform to the planners' particular views of who should have what."

Although competition can bear some admixture of regulation, it cannot be combined with planning to any extent we like without ceasing to operate as an effective guide to production. Both competition and central direction become poor and inefficient tools if they are incomplete, and a mixture of the two - means that neither will work. Planning and competition can be combined only by planning for competition, not by planning against competition.

What is promised to us as the Road to Freedom is in fact the Highroad to Servitude. For it is not difficult to see what must be the consequences when democracy embarks upon a course of planning. The goal of the planning will be described by some such vague term as "the general welfare." There will be no real agreement as to the ends to be attained, and the effect of the people's agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go: with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all.

Democratic assemblies cannot function as planning agencies.They cannot produce agreement on everything — the whole direction of the resources of the nation-for the number of possible courses of action will be legion. Even if a congress could, by proceeding step by step and compromising at each point, agree on some scheme, it would certainly in the end satisfy nobody.

Planning leads to dictatorship because dictatorship is the most effective instrument of coercion and, as such, essential if central planning on a large scale is to be possible. There is no justification for the widespread belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary; it is not the source of power which prevents it from being arbitrary; to be free from dictatorial qualities, the power must also be limited. A true "dictatorship of the proletariat," even if democratic in form, if it undertook centrally to direct the economic system, would probably destroy personal freedom as completely as any autocracy has ever done.

Individual freedom cannot be reconciled with the supremacy of one single purpose to which the whole of society is permanently subordinated.

Collectivism means the end of truth. To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the ends selected by those in control; it is essential that the people should come to regard these ends as their own. This is brought about by propaganda and by complete control of all sources of information.

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those they have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.
And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as this complete perversion of language.

If we are not to destroy individual freedom, competition must be left to function unobstructed. Let a uniform minimum be secured to everybody by all means; but let us admit at the same time that all claims for a privileged security of particular classes must lapse, that all excuses disappear for allowing particular groups to exclude newcomers from sharing their relative prosperity in order to maintain a special standard of their own.
The Road to Serfdom is available at WSU's Holland Library. If you're too lazy, the Reader's Digest condensed version is here. Read it and learn what's going on before it's too late.

As I told Scotty today on The PES, PARD has every right to protest against Wal-Mart. They have every right to be critical of Wal-Mart. They can choose not to shop there and actively encourage others not to shop there either. I would fight to the death for their free speech rights.

Where they, and the other Wal-Mart opponents are dead-wrong is advocating that the government must get involved. PARD wants the government to plan AGAINST competition and not plan FOR it. Their approach is misguided. Worse, it is un-American and frankly, evil. That path will lead to totalitarianism and ruin. And as Hayek predicted, PARD uses proaganda constantly to convince others that PARD's arguments are the same arguments that others, whose opposition is not as politically motivated, have against Wal-Mart. Hence the "kitchen sink" approach that Scotty always mentions.

In essence, regardless of whether Wal-Mart opens in Pullman or not, PARD has won. The decision about Wal-Mart will be made by three judges in a Spokane courtroom, not the free market. PARD has used the judicial process to accomplish what they couldn't do legislatively, "central planning by lawsuit" if you will. We all have a little less individual freedom as a result.

That's what the battle over growth on the Palouse is all about. There's a lot more than money at stake.

Technorati Tags:

Columnist Abuses Soldiers' Deaths

The Daily Evergreen carried an opinion article today titled “When will they realize the war is wrong? The author used a few choice phrases to express exactly why she felt our presence in Iraq was unjust or wrong. Most of those points have been said before by other columnists, TV hosts, or so-called experts. But what angered me was just how seditious and damaging the author’s words were, especially about our military:

Another headline Thursday in The Daily Evergreen, “Former WSU student killed in Iraq,” dominated the front page. On that day, the “war on terror” became all too relevant, even though it is being waged nearly 7,000 miles away. Last Thursday, the war once again became local news. One more name. One more life. One more son or daughter who will never come home. One more child who will never know their father or mother. One more unfulfilled destiny. One more name in the newspaper, one more name on a list, one more headline. Last week, the war took two more men with ties to Eastern Washington. When does it stop?

I think regular readers of this blog know my stance on the United States military. I have enormous faith in and love for those that have volunteered to risk their lives for this nation and for others. Not a man or woman serving in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard (though no longer an Armed Force) was ordered to take the uniform. We were never ordered to enlist, fight, and even die for the United States; we all, for whatever reasons, made a conscious decision to join. For a columnist to use the loss of any soldier as a means to push a political point is misdirected, as well as detestable and cowardly.

The cost and death of war is terrible: It has been since the early history of human kind, and will continue to be so for as long as we exist. Yes, parents will loose sons and daughters. Yes, husbands will loose wives; and wives, husbands. Children will grow up never knowing their mother or father; only knowing their sacrifice. The pain of war cuts deep, far deeper than many of us may ever know. How dare anyone use that pain to chastise their sacrifice. They did not die 7000 miles from home with the hope that we could site here, safe and comfortable, and rebuke the very reasons they laid down their lives. Shame on those that believe they can praise the troops from one side of their mouths and curse their cause from the other. For those that honorably serve in the Armed Forces, their cause is their life and their death. To insult their reasons for being in Iraq and elsewhere is to insult their service and their sacrifices. To a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine, there is no difference.

When does it stop? A good question, to be sure. Nobody hates war more than the warrior. I pray to God, however, that it stops when and only when the job is done. Let us press on until be can truly say our sons and daughters died not only for a noble cause, but for a successful one as well. President Bush is being stubborn on this matter, and I cannot blame him. Who wants to be the one to tell a grieving mother that her son died for nothing? To say, “I am sorry for your loss. We tried to make his death worth something, but in the end we weren’t willing to do what it would take to achieve success…”

More may and will die. That is the cold reality of war. I do not claim to understand what it means to know battle; to feel and see death around me. I have never seen a man die with fear and pain in his eyes, or felt that pain and fear for myself. In the future, perhaps I will. But I do understand where our soldiers are coming from. I know what motivates the vast majority of us to walk with heads held high in pride and purpose. It is not so that others can capitalize on the horrors of war. It is not so others can degrade our president, or abuse our choice.

Our military fights in war so others can live in peace.

If you believe the war should not have happened, you are entitled to that opinion. But the war has already begun, and that cannot be changed. Don’t make it worse by stirring hatred and resentment here at home. Our service men and women fight so you don’t have to. Please honor their commitment. One more name has been added to a growing list of those that willing gave everything they had. One more newspaper headline has been written. But instead of reading headlines like “Terrorist car bomb kills seven in Chicago playground,” we read of soldiers dying in foreign lands, thousands of miles from our homes and families.

The war is far from over; the issue is far from resolved. We have reached a point in this conflict when America is losing….[President Bush] seems to believe we can still hold on; we can still make a difference and win, whatever winning means.

If we do lose this war, I assure you it will not be due to any lack of military proficiency, supply, or will. Failure will occur here at home as it did for Vietnam, and with an attitude like that seen in The Daily Evergreen today, we are already on our way.

Do not let members of our military die in vane. Don’t let fear overcome resolve. Everything of worth comes at a high cost, especially peace. God bless our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Help Save the Ice Rink

I'm posting this as a community service:
Hello Everyone,

Ok now is the time; we're down to the wire here on the City, County and Fair Board issues. We've held off, and have been careful not to ask for too much from all you good people. Now, We need your help.

Please forward this to everyone you know that cares about the Ice Rink!

We need to contact all of these people, in any way shape or form. Letters to the editor of the newspaper would be good too. These people have been dragging their feet on the Ice Rink for far too long, and we need a decision, and we need it now. You need to let these people know that you are their constituents, and are tired of this. THIS IS AN AMAZING THING FOR OUR KIDS, OUR HEALTH, AND OUR ECONOMY!! Where is the downside?

The ice rink has been here for 5 years; Last year we had 29,000 skater visits; we have 84 folks in our Learn to Skate Program: a record number.

The University of Idaho has 42 students in a skating class here. That would quadruple if we could enclose our rink. If we could enclose our rink, we'd have taken care of the 2 or 3 people who have noise issues with us. We're trying to build our enclosed rink because we are, and have been a very good neighbor. But we also have no more hours to give. We can't operate after 9:00 at night for hockey or skating with music. Almost.

Every night, we have 30 to 40 college/high school kids out here skating with no music. It's a non alcoholic venue, well lit, well supervised.

Could you imagine how many would be here if we had some great tunes, at a reasonable volume? THERE'S NO WHERE ELSE TO GO FOR THESE KIDS!!

We cost this town and County nothing. THIS IS A GIFT! We pay $5,000 per year to the Fairgrounds for rent. The aquatics center costs the city somewhere around $50,000 per year-- that's a loss! If we ever have a loss, we get a loan, at our own expense. We still owe over $250,000 from original investment. We could be paying that down if we could enclose and get some longer hours.

We could have hockey tournaments... tell your friends who own businesses, that we have about 90 kids in an average tournament: that's at LEAST 90 motel rooms for two nights, and all the food and shopping and movies between games that go along with those 90 kids... We could expand our sheet of ice so that University of Idaho Men's and Women's teams and WSU men's and women's teams could have their games HERE, instead of Coeur D'Alene and Spokane!! And that's another event for kids AND adults!!

There is a lot more information, and NO DOWNSIDE to this rink!

Send your letters to the editor, as part of your email, no attachments, and less than 300 words. Pick from these fun facts something you'd like to focus on, because you'll get bogged down in a long letter. Make it short, and positive, but make it clear.

The City's website is: www.ci.moscow.id.us ; find the council and city staff there, and email and call them. They need to hear from you. Most places, the CITY can't do enough for their rink. Where is our help?

The Fairgrounds number is: 883-5722. They don't think we serve the county enough. Let them know that Moscow is part of the county, and that lots of people from the county come in to skate. 4H is Great, but we can have both, and this will be a building that will be used by the Fair and the County in the summer. A building that we will find donors and loans to pay for. No taxes, no cost to anyone.

Here is the County Commissioner's information:

Commissioners: Chair Jack Nelson jnelson@latah.id.us
Jennifer Barrett jbarrett@latah.id.us
Tom S. Stroschein tstroschein@latah.id.us
Deputy Clerk of the Board/: Administrative Assistant

Phone: (208) 883-7208
FAX: (208) 883-2280
E-mail: bocc@latah.id.us
Location: Latah County Courthouse <../Map.htm> Room 3B

Thanks. we need your help.

Alan Brown
Executive Director
Rotary Veterans Memorial Pavilion
aka Palouse Ice Rink

Pullman Held Hostage: Day 484

Since PARD filed its Site Plan appeal on October 3 2005, Pullman has lost:

  • $966,785.16 in sales and property tax revenues (based on data presented at an appeal hearing in January 2006 by Johnson Gardner and the Whitman County Assessor's Office)

  • $36,300.25 in direct fees associated with the appeal (based on figures from Pullman Finance Director Troy Woo)

  • Incalculable hours of the city staff's time spent in preparation for and attendance at the appeal hearings, keeping them from other important business of the people


    Technorati Tags:

    “Let’s not be a big-box town”

    There was another letter in Saturday’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News that is going in “The Carnival of Hypocrisy” file should Mayor Moonbat announce plans for a Home Depot in Moscow:
    I am writing to express my support for the size cap on big-box stores.

    My family moved to Moscow after a three-year search of small towns in the United States. There is something unique and wonderful here that will be destroyed if huge stores come in. Most importantly, all those stores rely on car traffic. It is no longer correct for a city or region to make the automobile the dominant design element in planning. At present, Moscow is one of the best cities for bike and foot transportation I’ve ever seen. Cities that focus on nonmotorized transit have healthier communities, healthier economies and healthier people.

    Regarding economic development, expanding big-box retail is a dead end — not a sustainable approach to the economy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And of course, all the direct environmental degradation, and the indirect degradation due to car traffic are well understood by most people who live here.

    Moscow is situated ideally for a different form of sustainable, long-term economic growth. For example, the University of Idaho has taken steps to become a leader in the exploding field of helping make the economy more reflective of ecological values — the “sustainability” movement. There are huge economic opportunities available in commercializing strategies and technologies that are being developed now by the university. Focusing on this rapidly growing sector instead of on the rapidly self-destructing big retail field will create far more jobs and far better-paying jobs in Moscow over both the short and long haul while allowing us to maintain what is already great about living in a small college town.

    Mark Winstein
    Ahhh, the truth comes out. It’s not big-box stores; it’s the wider war against the internal combustion engine.

    Let’s throw the tree hugger/global warming part of the anti-car argument out for a moment and concentrate on the social engineering aspects. Winstein, the founder of Ecostructure Financial, whose purpose is to “develop and provide ecological financing for businesses and projects that are working to benefit forests, rivers, coral reefs, open space and people,”(notice people come last) claims nonmotorized transit gives us “healthier communities healthier economies and healthier people.”

    See, the left-wingers have always hated cars, because cars make us independent. Cars mean freedom. And of course, independence and freedom are anathema to the statists. They want you to be dependent on big government for your housing, your job, and your transportation. For once they control the infrastructure, then they control you. The former Soviet Union didn’t have many cars. You had to either walk or take public transportation everywhere you went. But I don’t remember any studies pointing out how much healthier people were back in the USSR, or more prosperous.

    There are probably few people in Pullman that walk more than me. I walk at least 20 miles every week. But I do it because I WANT TO, not because the government MAKES ME. The government has NO BUSINESS meddling in personal choices.

    Similarly, people drive cars and go to big-box stores because they WANT TO, not because some evil cabal in Bentonville forces them to do it. Can you imagine going to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping for a family of five ON A BIKE? How about the farmers? Should they walk 20 miles to town? If you want to live crammed in like a sardine and taking the bus or subway everywhere you go, then there are plenty of places like that to live. Please move there, by all means.

    Places like Pullman were founded because people wanted to escape such statism. Our forefathers left Europe and headed for the New World because it was too crowded and had too little freedom. After they could see another person’s house in Virginia and Pennsylvania, they headed to Kentucky. When Kentucky got “too crowded,” they headed to Missouri. Finally, they headed to the Palouse Country. Now, we have nowhere left to run away from the meddling “smart growthers” that want to turn Pullman and Moscow into midtown Manhattan. I'm not against, for example, someone living in a loft apartment in downtown Pullman and walking or biking everywhere they go. Heck, I'd probably do it myself if I were younger and single. But that should be a PERSONAL DECISION made in a free market, not a government MANDATE. It's all about having choices.

    For more on collectivism and social engineering, read Friedrich August von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. My favorite quote from Hayek is:
    It is the price of democracy that the possibilities of conscious control are restricted to the fields where true agreement exists and that in some fields things must be left to chance. But in a society which for its functioning depends on central planning this control cannot be made dependent on a majority's being able to agree; it will often be necessary that the will of a small minority be imposed upon the people, because the minority will be the largest group able to agree among themselves on the question at issue. Democratic government has worked successfully where, and so long as, the functions of government were, by a widely accepted creed, restricted to fields where agreement among a majority could be achieved by free discussion; and it is the great merit of the liberal creed that it reduced the range of subjects on which agreement was necessary to one on which it was likely to exist in a society of free men. It is now often said that democracy will not tolerate "capitalism." If "capitalism" means here a competitive system based on free disposal over private property, it is far more important to realize that only within this system is democracy possible. When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.
    Sound familiar?

    Good Advice

    An excerpt from an article in Saturday’s Lewiston Tribune about Paul Kimmell’s departure from the Moscow Chamber of Commerce:
    Kimmell said the issue of growth and economic development has increasingly tended to divide the town and even the region. He said all entities should work together to make the Palouse a vibrant regional retail center that attracts shoppers.

    "Keep working together," he said. "We have had a great relationship with Pullman. Don't let these little skirmishes along the way distract us."
    Kimmell’s right. Scotty did a great job pointing this out on The PES last Monday. Whitman County obviously benefits from the Hawkins Development, but so will Moscow. It will draw customers to their retailers just over the border and will probably result in even more stores being built in Moscow. Pullman will get the least out of the deal, but will still benefit from the tax revenue somewhat by being part of Whitman County. If nothing else, the county won’t have to keep raising the sales tax. Plus, as the corridor develops, it will develop to the west and Pullman.

    Moscow could cooperate and extend services to Hawkins for a slice of the tax revenue pie, but has chosen to fight it instead. Pullman is least able to provide infrastructure because of the distance, but if money becomes available, hopefully we will extend services in the corridor. That’s what Kimmell is talking about. Everybody helps and everybody wins.

    I have said many times that a threat to free enterprise anywhere on the Palouse is a threat to free enterprise everywhere on the Palouse. We’re seeing that now with Nancy Chaney. Ultimately, only the Greater Moscow Alliance and the Moscow Chamber of Commerce can deal with Chaney, as we can’t vote in their elections. We need their help and vice versa.

    I’m encouraged by recent public comments by the GMA and the Moscow Chamber about Chaney’s meddling in Whitman County affairs. If we are to be allies, we must be true allies, not like the US and the Soviet Union during WWII, fighting a common enemy but still secretly trying to stab each other in the back. I’m afraid there are still some people in Moscow that oppose the no-growth liberals there but gleefully join in with the Pullman no-growth liberals (i.e. Gerard Connelly of Tri-State). That must stop. It’s going to take a strong coordinated effort to stop the depredations of the Moscow Civic Association and PARD. We can’t let them win through a “divide-and-conquer” strategy. They are strongly united. We must be also.

    Urban Sprawl? Try Urban Legend

    From yesterday’s Lewiston Tribune:
    Think the Palouse is exploding? Think again

    Is growth out of hand and in need of constraints? Or is a perception in need of perspective?

    Most people around the Palouse say growth is obviously here and, well, growing. Just look at all those new houses around town and on the rural skyline. Even Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has seen fit to look for larger retail space here and in neighboring Pullman.

    No wonder terms like controlled growth and smart growth have become part of the local vernacular. Some sort of leash is needed to keep the place from becoming another sprawling Coeur d'Alene or a booming Boise.

    Or is it?

    Data from the U.S. Census Bureau begs the question.

    Populations here and in Pullman have grown slightly, according to the latest available statistics, but the number of people living in both Latah and Whitman counties has declined.

    "I was surprised about that," says Paul Kimmell, former Latah County commissioner and past executive director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce. "I think it (the perception of bigger population growth) might be because fewer people are building bigger homes."

    In 2005, according to Census Bureau estimates, Moscow's population was 21,882 -- up 591 from 21,291 in 2000. Pullman, during those same years, grew by 587 from 24,675 to 25,262.

    Latah and Whitman counties, meanwhile, lost 221 and 570 people respectively, between 2000 and 2005, according to Census Bureau statistics. Total estimated population for 2005 in Latah County was 34,714, with an estimated 40,170 living in Whitman County.
    Only Stephen King tells more scary stories than the Left. It’s the only way they can get anything done. Ooooohh. Give up your cars or the ice caps will melt and flood the world. Ooooooh. If Wal-Mart comes to town, we’ll be “just like Coeur d’Alene.” Ooooooh.

    What a crock. According to data presented by Steve Peterson, an economist at UI, Whitman County’s population is less now than it was in 1974!!!

    According to U.S. Census data ,over the period from 2000-2005, only two counties in the State of Washington LOST population: Whitman and Garfield.

    Tell the no-growth liberals we’ve had enough of their lies and exaggerations.

    Sunday, January 28, 2007

    "Residents Squabble Over the Future of This Quaint Rural Community"

    Today's Lewiston Tribune had a big front page spread of stories on the controversy over growth in Moscow. The Tribune and David Johnson, it seems, don't think anything exists north of Clarkston or west of Moscow except PARD and WSU. Nevertheless, there are some interesting quotes in the article.
    Residents squabble over the future of this quaint rural community; The trouble with growth Everybody, it seems, has an agenda, but the debate over the future of Moscow boils down to one of economics versus aesthetics

    On one side of the growth and development issue, we have CAVE people and BANANAs.

    On the other side, there are PIMBYs and YIMBYs, not to be confused with NIMBYs.

    Translation: CAVE people are Citizens Against Virtually Everything. They're often accused of teaming with BANANA types who want to Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

    PIMBYs are people who blindly open their arms to development and shout, "Please In My Back Yard." They sometimes declare, "Yes In My Back Yard."

    NIMBYs, of course, have long subscribed to the notion of Not In My Back Yard. But they can be on either side of the growth issue, depending on the nature of the proposed development.

    Amid all this pejorative alphabet soup, there are also people who exhibit what's known as DBM, drawbridge mentality. They're usually rich rascals who move from mainstream America to places like rural Moscow to soak up the amenities and then pull up the drawbridge to fend off others seeking the same.

    Few people in Moscow declare or admit allegiance to any of these acronym camps, but many suggest that others are devotees. And that, coupled with genuine concern about this university community's future, seems enough to fuel the growth debate for some time to come.

    This, despite statistics that show Moscow has grown only slightly over the past several years and Latah County has actually lost population. It's the same story across the border where Pullman's population has grown a bit more than Moscow's, but Whitman County has lost even more residents than Latah County.

    So the current debate seems to be more about economic growth. Aside from the few who'll admit to being CAVE people or BANANAs, most everyone within the fray say they want Moscow to prosper financially. The contention starts when someone asks, "How?"

    "If we want to be a bedroom community for Pullman, Lewiston and Potlatch," warns Steve Busch, chairman of the growth-oriented Greater Moscow Alliance, "then we can write regulations to secure that."

    "I've been a little perturbed by attempts to label us as anti-growth," counters Bruce Livingston, president of the Moscow Civic Association. "We want the community to grow in ways that don't change its character."

    The two men are neighbors who are happy to shake hands over the shrubs between their yards.

    "We had Bruce over for our Christmas open house," says Busch, co-owner of Busch Distributing.

    "I really enjoyed it," says Livingston, a federal death row defense attorney.

    Neither will call the other a PIMBY, YIMBY, BANANA or CAVE person.

    But their views on growth and development, they concede, start on opposite sides of the fence. Common ground, to date, appears to be a narrow proposition.

    Livingston's Moscow Civic Association was first to become part of the growth glossary here. While he and other members blanch at anti-growth labels, Busch and founders of the Greater Moscow Alliance admit their organization was formed to counter the MCA.

    "I don't know that we'd back away from being called pro-growth," Busch said seven months ago when the GMA was formed. Asked at that time if the alliance was an antidote to the MCA, Busch said, "I don't think we'd admit that, but from what I can see, they're well organized and have sincere beliefs about what they want to do."

    Sandwiched between these two citizens groups, is the Moscow City Council, a seven-member legislative body (including the mayor) with a political identity that's hinged greatly over the last five years on the growth issue.

    In the last election, most observers agree, the pendulum swung to the left.

    The former council, headed by then Mayor Marshall Comstock, a get-it-done construction company owner who touts free enterprise, was considered business friendly, if not outright pro-growth.

    "The council when I was mayor was definitely more pro-growth," Comstock says without hesitation.

    The current council, under the guidance of Mayor Nancy Chaney, a soft-spoken former nurse who was endorsed by the MCA and leans "green" on environmental issues, is prone to keeping a tighter rein on free enterprise, at least at the corporate level.

    "I don't think this council is anti-growth," says Chaney, who was a council member under Comstock's administration, "but I think we can afford to be choosy."

    Enter Wal-Mart, the corporate behemoth that became a touchstone for the growth debate here nearly two years ago when plans for a super center were announced.

    "I'm not a Wal-Mart defender per se," says Busch, "but I know we've had a free-market economy in the United States that's worked pretty well for more than 200 years. And if the business climate in Moscow is such that the biggest retailer in the world wants to locate here, that's the way it is."

    Livingston counters that Wal-Mart in a super-size portion would mark the beginning of the end of Moscow's small-town character.

    "There certainly are some people who don't want a Wal-Mart at all, but I'm not one of them," Livingston says. "However, I'm not sure you need a super center."

    The proposed site for the super center and possibly other big-box stores is in the southeastern corner of town, across State Highway 8 from the Moscow Cemetery.

    "Over their dead bodies," people organized against the Wal-Mart-anchored development seemed to say. A "No Super Wal-Mart" group was organized, a required zoning change was shot down and the big retailer at this time seems focused on locating in neighboring Pullman where the city council, to this point, has left the welcome mat out.

    Meanwhile, members of the Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday voted to recommend a 130,000-square-foot cap on retail stores; a proposal that if adopted by the city council will effectively prohibit most big-box stores. A public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Feb. 28. It promises to be an airing of ideas by PIMBYs, CAVE people and everyone in between.

    Busch and Comstock warn that Moscow has an ever-growing reputation of being anti-business and Chaney recently reinforced the reputation by writing letters of concern about developments across the border in Washington.

    "I think it's legal for her to do that," says Comstock, "but I disagree with it. I think the mayor has gone a little bit too far."

    Chaney defends questioning the proposed 110-acre Hawkins Co.'s shopping center and an automobile dealership within a mile of Moscow city limits as prudent, if not necessary. "I had the council's full support to do that," she says of her letters addressed to Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen.

    Moscow Chamber of Commerce President Mike Nelson last week sided with Busch and Comstock.

    "We must commit to eliminating any obstacles in the way of building true long-term regional economic cooperation," Nelson wrote in a letter-of-concern to Chaney in which he expressed "disappointment" with the mayor's cross-border intervention.

    Bordsen, after reviewing all of Chaney's comments, decided none of them raised issues worthy of changing his initial approval of the development plans.

    Chaney, who holds a master's degree in environmental science from the University of Idaho, suggests that growth and development should be tethered, rather than given a free rein.

    "I am vocal and trying to make it clear that the green light is on for development in Moscow within the principals of smart growth."

    Jim Anderson, vice chairman of the GMA, a local businessman and a former city council member, doesn't buy Chaney's pitch. "What she's doing is making us look like a bunch of jerks over here. I don't think she's stating the opinion of most people in the city of Moscow."

    Anderson also chastises a majority of the city council.

    "They're quoting smart growth, which equates to no growth. I think the present council has demonstrated that they're not in favor of growth. I don't care what they say, that reputation is there."

    Bill London, a co-founder of the MCA and advocate of smart-growth principles, says free enterprise of the kind that spawns Wal-Mart super centers in town's like Moscow and shopping centers in farm land is "stupid."

    He contends that residents have a right to work through representative government to design and build "a unique community that doesn't want a Wal-Mart."
    The take-home from all this is a major opportunity for Pullman, which for the last 30 years has been the town with the business-unfriendly reputation. We can seize the initiative while Moscow self-destructs and do some much needed catching up. Unfortunately, PARD is holding us back by one arm and the Department of Ecology by the other. The stakes have never been higher.

    Damn Strait

    There are only three artists who have had more than 40 #1 country music hits. I had the privilege of seeing both of the living ones at the Tacoma Dome last night.

    George Strait, the King of Country Music, and the legendary Ronnie Milsap entertained over 20,000 Northwest fans for some 4 hours, along with 17 year-old phenom Taylor Swift (who sings the current #7 hit "Tim McGraw").

    I know of a few other Pullman residents that made the trip over. If you did, chime in and let me know what you thought.

    Monday Jan 29th, Show Info

    The PES will have Jerrid Edgington, the founder and CEO of the Evergreen Football League on the show. He is a former semi-pro football player and coach. He started the Evergreen Football League in 2005 to compete with the Inland Northwest Football League. Both leagues served Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Find out why only one league stands, plus learn about this upcoming 2007 semi-pro football season. We have our very own team, the Palouse Thunder. I will try to get the team owner from the Thunder to come on in the next couple weeks.

    Also, next week I will have Mayor Glenn Johnson on the show. Tom and I had him on last year. I have reviewed the show's audio and I am going to follow up that interview with questions about progress on what he had told us, plus find out the new directions Pullman is headed. If there are any specific questions you want asked of Johnson, please let me know.

    Tune in to 90.7 FM from noon to two o'clock pm Monday. You can also listen to the stream at www.kzuu.org. FYI - we have had some problems with the streams if one does not work, try one at a different kbs. If you have questions through out the show the studio line is 335-2207.

    The Washington College Republican Federation Supporting Your 2nd Amendment Right

    The College Republicans across the state have some major events/demonstrations coming up. Look out for the conservative campus voice and thank you all for your support.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    "No clear path; Controversy continues about the future of Pullman-Moscow corridor"

    The story below comes from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Congrats to Hillary Hamm for doing such a good job explaining the corridor development history. Compare Sig Jorstad's common sense with Nancy Chaney. We have too little good old- fashioned common sense around here.
    The Pullman-Moscow Highway would still be a slow-moving country road if Sig Jorstad had his way.

    But the 93-year-old knows it’s not smart to stifle growth. He knows development in the prime real estate situated along the corridor between the cities is inevitable.

    “No matter what you like, we’re gonna have it,” he said. “I’d rather go ahead with them than fight with them. It’s gonna come.”

    Development in the corridor has been a longstanding issue for Whitman County officials.

    Now, it’s become a point of contention for Moscow, Pullman and the surrounding area as well. Every entity — if not everyone — has an idea of how they’d like to see the corridor developed.

    The way it was

    Jean Wardwell, a longtime member of the Whitman County Planning Commission, said there were two important factors in determining what types of business would work in the corridor: availability of water and whether access on and off the highway would be available.

    “We did not envision stand-alone restaurants and that sort of thing,” said Wardwell, who was chairwoman of the commission from 1997 to 2006.

    Lumber yards, car dealerships and mini-storage businesses were parts of the conceptualized corridor development.

    “Something that takes a lot of space inside a city, but if put between the two cities, it could serve both,” Wardwell said.

    Numerous drafts were drawn up before the Whitman County commissioners adopted the ordinance and zoning language for the corridor in 1999. It has since been amended, most recently in 2005.

    The corridor currently is zoned for light industrial and heavy commercial ventures. Planning guidelines outlined in the 1999 document identified appropriate corridor development to include industrial uses such as manufacturing and assembly businesses, as well as wholesale and retailers.

    Conditional uses on both the north and south sides of the corridor include campgrounds, child care centers, communications towers and facilities, assisted-care facilities, hotels, motels and inns, moving businesses and storage units, office buildings, government offices, pharmacies and emergency health-care facilities, plus several types of retail establishments.

    Separate documents regulate zoning on both sides of the highway to sort development. The main reason for the split was to make it easier to allow mining on the south side of the road but not permit any new mining on the north side.

    Wardwell said writing the ordinance was a daunting task. It was difficult to create a business route open for development while preserving the integrity of the transportation corridor and protecting the environment. All ordinances had to comply with the State Environmental Policy Act, which requires municipalities to consider the environmental consequences of a proposal before approving or denying the plan.

    “We tried to write language that the Department of Ecology wouldn’t have heartburn over,” Wardwell said. “The environmentalists are why there are so many hoops to jump through.”

    Original site requirements identified that lots must be 10 acres or more and 300 feet must separate the front of a parcel and the public right of way. Setbacks from the highway were pinpointed in addition to landscaping rules, traffic access flows, strict instructions regarding stormwater control and grading guidelines to reduce erosion.

    Wardwell said corridor development is reliant on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s highway-widening project, which is under way. The “footprint” left by the new road will determine the landscape and what types of businesses are practical and acceptable.

    The way it is

    Water — or a lack thereof — is the biggest hang-up to development in the corridor.

    “Water is a huge problem,” Wardwell said. “Water will hold off development for years. Water is going to become more and more of an issue.”

    Wardwell said she knows development would occur more quickly if the area was primed with infrastructure, such as having sewer and water hookups already strung to corridor properties.

    But the financially pinched county can’t afford the expense.

    “That’s never going to happen,” she said. “I know, it’s less attractive for developers. It was never discussed because we always knew we didn’t have the money.”

    Pullman can’t afford to stretch services far into the corridor either. Mayor Glenn Johnson said providing water and sewer services to Sunshine Road was estimated at about $14 million in 2005.

    “We’re going to have to work together and figure this out,” he said.

    Even if a developer can obtain land and has the money to begin construction, it could take years to get a water right, which is a decision completely out of the county’s hands. Water rights are awarded by the Washington State Department of Ecology and a right hasn’t been granted in Whitman County since 1992, Wardwell said.

    “Water has stymied any growth,” she said. “It’s going to take someone really determined. We could take all the ordinances out and say you could do whatever you want out there, but that still wouldn’t make water.”

    Wardwell noted that a water right is not necessary for properties that use less than 5,000 gallons of water per day. In these instances, an exempt well can be claimed. Businesses such as car dealerships and lumber yards could operate without the need for much water.

    Jorstad scoffs at the idea that water is scarce. He said too much red tape is to blame for slow development in the corridor.

    “It takes months to get a permit, and it doesn’t take one permit. It takes dozens of permits,” Jorstad said. “They’ve got it now so they’ll tell you what color to paint your house. They’re plumb nuts.”

    The process was simple when Jorstad and his wife, Carol, decided more than 40 years ago to build their home 1.5 miles outside of Pullman. He said they went to the Whitman County offices in Colfax, got a building permit and started construction. The area was mostly undeveloped at that time and primarily consisted of agricultural land.

    Jorstad, who owns about 30 acres in the corridor, has been willing to sell property to developers in the past. In the 1990s he offered some of his land for a joint Pullman-Moscow hospital. He’s invited big-box stores to the property and continuously receives offers to purchase his land.

    Developers have been interested, he said, but they end up backing out because of the lengthy permit process and various requirements needed before construction can begin.

    Wardwell said the corridor zoning ordinance has been tweaked a bit over the years to allow for more leniency. Parcel sizes now can be as small as 3 acres and impervious surfaces can take up 75 percent of the lot.

    “When you write a regulation, you have to allow for the environmental concerns and aesthetic concerns while allowing the development,” she said, noting that the planning commission tried to appease developers, environmentalists and state and federal guidelines when writing the ordinance.

    “Good planning takes care of everybody,” she said. “It should take care of the people that want to develop and please people that don’t want development and preserve the area for the future.”

    Johnson said he has no particular vision for the corridor, though he hopes Pullman car dealerships stay in town, rather than flocking to the highway. If dealerships leave the city limits, the city will lose a portion of its revenue stream and the money would go to Whitman County.

    “That’s our retail sales tax,” he said. “I want all the car dealerships we can have inside the city.”

    Wardwell said she understands cities fear for their revenue.

    “I’m one of those people who can see both sides,” she said. “All the entities ... are facing tight budgetary times. Of course, they don’t want their sales tax hurt.”

    James Toyota in Moscow currently is working through permit regulations to move out onto the highway, a mile west of the city in Whitman County.

    Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney has been vocal about restricting development in the corridor and protecting natural resources, such as the aquifer and Paradise Creek, which runs parallel to the highway. She has been honest that she disagrees with the idea to move James Toyota into the corridor and Hawkins Companies’ proposed 600,000-square-foot retail development, which would be located just northeast of the Toyota dealership.

    “I think that having just one person’s vision represented would be detrimental to the possibilities,” she said. “Contributing to sprawl is counterintuitive as we move toward the knowledge corridor.”

    Still, Chaney said she looks forward to having a regional dialogue about corridor growth.

    “I’m not without ideas but it’s not about my vision, it’s about our communal vision,” she said.

    Johnson agreed.

    “I think we can do a lot of things cooperatively with the county,” he said. “We’re going to have to work together to figure this out.”

    The way it’s going to be

    Champion Electric and Lighting owner Sam Young was lucky to move into a pre-existing building in the corridor 10 years ago. The business relocated from downtown Pullman.

    Young said he expects development to boom when the highway is completed.

    “When the road is done, there will be a lot more development in the corridor,” he said. “We would have had growth five years ago if the highway had been (widened) five years ago.”

    Jorstad agreed.

    “They’re already plotting lots out there,” he said. “The homes will come as soon as the businesses come.”

    Until then, the debate over exactly what should be built in the corridor and where it should be located likely will continue.

    “It is a controversy,” Wardwell said. “It’s going to be an ongoing issue.”
    More about Whitman County and the "knowledge corridor" later.

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    "Window closes for Moscow, Solomon to appeal Hawkins’ SEPA checklist"

    From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    Developers now will seek conditional use permit for proposed corridor retail center in Whitman County

    The city of Moscow and Latah County resident Mark Solomon declined to appeal an environmental checklist for a proposed large-scale retail development in Whitman County, just across the state line.

    Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen said Moscow and Solomon, a local activist, had until 4 p.m. Thursday to file an appeal.

    Bordsen said Hawkins Companies’ State Environmental Policy Act checklist is now complete. The next step for the proposed 600,000-square-foot retail center will be a conditional use permit public hearing that is tentatively scheduled for mid-February.

    Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent said he wasn’t surprised by Moscow and Solomon’s decision not to appeal the SEPA checklist. He hopes the county’s dedication to addressing various environmental concerns was demonstrated through the SEPA process.

    Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney said the city decided not to appeal because of Whitman County’s apparent lack of willingness to change requirements for the proposed development. The city will wait and see what occurs at the conditional use permit hearing and will monitor Hawkins Companies’ search for adequate water rights for the development.

    The city still has concerns about the proposed development, Chaney said. It will continue to make the concerns known and work to solve them.

    In its previous comments about the proposed development, the city stressed its concerns over environmental impacts and the effect development would have on the area and its water supply.

    It also was concerned about infrastructure and increased traffic, police and fire protection and the location of a retail center so far from the county’s population base.

    Chaney and Largent both said they had a chance to meet at a quarterly regional meeting Thursday. Both were encouraged by each other’s apparent willingness to work together on issues like development.

    “If we can put faces and relationships to paper flying back and forth between us I think it will go a long way for us to work together as a region,” Chaney said.

    Chaney said Thursday’s breakfast was a good start.

    Bordsen did not have a timeline for construction to begin on the development. Water still is a challenge for Hawkins Companies, which must find water rights that apply to the Pullman-Moscow corridor and have the permits approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

    Solomon said his main issue with the proposed development focused on water availability around Moscow. He’s concerned the development will draw enough water from the area’s aquifer system to negatively affect Moscow’s supply.

    Solomon plans to stay involved in the water-right transfer and allocation process and focus his comments to those governing boards.
    "The city decided not to appeal because of Whitman County’s apparent lack of willingness to change requirements for the proposed development?" Damn straight. I'm glad they got that their thick skulls.

    Kudos to Mike Largent for his diplomacy. That is why I will never run for elected office. If I were a Whitman County Commissioner and met with the Moscow City Council, a "Geraldo" type brawl might have broken out.

    Hopefully, we'll be breaking ground in the summer. Now, if we could only shake Wal-Mart loose.

    Uncle Buck Scores Own Goal

    In a rant against Wal-Mart published in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Professor Jim "Shriveled Deer Testicles" Krueger inadvertently helped make the case for Wal-Mart when he wrote:
    Pullman flourishes because of Washington State University. WSU thrives because it can attract many excellent professors. Many professors would not have moved to Pullman if they knew it was soon to be a big-box clone of a thousand other places.
    You mean all we need is a Wal-Mart Supercenter to keep knuckleheaded moonbat professors like Krueger, TV Reed, John Streamas, and David Leonard, out of Pullman? YES!!!!!!!! And here I thought reversing the sales tax leakage was the biggest advantage! Who would have thought it was so easy? We should have done it years ago.

    For it is these radical, elitist professors that "broadcast ugliness 24/7" and whose "pernicious effects" have ruined Pullman and Whitman County.

    Technorati Tags:

    Moscow, Solomon don't appeal Hawkins' SEPA ruling

    Deadline for formal appeal passes Thursday with no action
    Staff report
    Friday, January 26, 2007 - Page Updated at 08:37:43 AMThe city of Moscow and a local conservationist did not file an appeal of an environmental checklist for a proposed large-scale retail development on the Pullman-Moscow Highway just west of the Idaho border.
    Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen said Moscow and Mark Solomon, both of whom had submitted concerns about the Hawkins development, had until 4 p.m. Thursday to file an appeal against the county's ruling on the Hawkins development. His office did not receive anything from either party.
    Bordsen said the Hawkins Companies’ State Environmental Policy Act checklist is now complete.
    The next step for the proposed 600,000-square-foot retail center will be a public hearing on a conditional use permit. That hearing is tentatively scheduled for mid-February.
    For additional information, check the Friday afternoon edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News or DNews.com.

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission Votes for Snobbery

    When you read this story from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News consider this fact. The average Home Depot store is approximately 130,000 square feet

    Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission recommends size cap for new businesses

    Stores would be limited to 130,000 square feet; public hearing set for Feb. 28

    The Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission recommended Wednesday that stores larger than 130,000 square feet with 410 or more parking spaces should not be allowed to locate within city limits.

    The commission also agreed to allow stores to apply for a variance under certain circumstances.

    A public hearing on the size cap recommendation and a dark-store provision drafted by a subcommittee last year will be held during the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Feb. 28 meeting. Its recommendation will then be sent to the City Council.

    The Large Retail Establishment Ordinance, passed in February, requires so-called big-box stores to go through a conditional use permit process before locating in Moscow.

    The City Council asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend amendments to the ordinance, including size-cap and dark-store provisions. “Dark” stores are considered those that have gone out of business and remain empty.

    “To me (a size cap) supports the idea that very large developments have potential negative impacts,” commission member Joel Hamilton said.

    Commission member Nels Reese said he favored putting the size cap on the table to bring it up for discussion during a public meeting.

    “The cap is an important discussion point around America today in small and large places,” he said. “By not having a cap comment we won’t get the same comments from the public that we probably should hear.”

    Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Wayne Krauss said the conditional use permit process should be enough to control large-scale retail development and a size cap is too restrictive.

    “There’s no question (big-box stores) have to be controlled,” he said. “But a conditional use permit can be a means of that control.”

    He said a cap could limit Latah County’s ability to compete with Whitman County for new businesses.

    The Planning and Zoning Commission followed the size-cap subcommittee’s recommendations that a large retail establishment would have to expand by at least 30 percent before it would be required to apply for a conditional use permit. Big-box stores between 40,000 and 65,000 square feet would be subject to the design manual — which includes standards for the exterior and interior of buildings — at the discretion of the board of adjustment, and any business requiring 140 or fewer parking spaces would not be subject to the parking requirements of the design manual.

    Stores larger than 65,000 square feet or with more than 140 parking spots would be subject to the entire design manual.

    The Planning and Zoning Commission also followed the dark-store committee’s recommendation to require businesses larger than 64,000 square feet to submit a reuse plan for the facility within 90 days of abandonment. The owner must provide regular updates to the city, and after three years, the City Council can assess fines if it doesn’t think the entity is acting in the best interest of the city.
    You think they just picked 130,000 sq. ft. limit out of the air? Please. I can't WAIT until Home Depot announces plans for Moscow. I hereby publicly vow that I will devote every one of my future Town Crier columns to reminding the Wal-Mart opponents in Moscow of EVERY comment they have ever made about being choosy and not a "you-all come" area, environmentally responsible business, conserving resources, "heat islands," focusing on high-tech industries, traffic on the Pullman/Moscow Highway, the Chipman Trail, the aquifers, losing that "small town feeling," sustainability, supporting local businesses, money leavingthe community, , etc., etc., etc. by Wal-Mart opponents in Moscow. It will be called the Carnival of Hypocrisy.